A local business challenges the notion that quality eyewear should be out of reach— while giving back to an amazing cause.
Chad Dime, one of the three founders of DIFF Eyewear, is a young guy, super-friendly and incredibly gracious. He and his two partners, Zachary Gordan and Chad Jernigan, run their business in a small office space in South Bay. That is, of course, when they’re not traveling to music festivals around the country, building awareness for their brand.
DIFF began as the brainchild of Zack and Chad J., who were both trying to find a solution to poorly made, paper diffraction glasses on opposite ends of the country. Chad D., who had already been working in eyewear, was looking to translate his experience into an opportunity to give back while being a part of the current social scene.
The company has since evolved into what the guys describe as a “positive disruption” in the eyewear industry, with a socially conscious business model. The brand boasts stylish, high-quality eyewear at a price point that keeps them accessible, which is pretty fab on its own.
But what really sets the line apart is DIFF’s partnership with Eyes On Africa, a nonprofit whose mission is “to provide eyeglasses at no cost to Africans through distribution in communities with no access to vision care.” For every pair of DIFF sunglasses sold, a pair of reading glasses are donated to Eyes On Africa’s cause.
For Chad D., a Palos Verdes native, the notion of giving back was an important part of the direction he envisioned for DIFF. “I was raised in a surf community, with values that encompass a lifestyle that encourages a lot of respect—how to give back and not just be selfish and greedy,” Chad D. notes. “I think that’s a really cool part about where I was raised and the values that came with being a surfer, which I think feeds into the socially conscious aspect of our brand.”
With Chad D. working primarily with DIFF’s charitable partnership and handling the day-to-day logistics, Chad J. focuses the majority of his energy on maintaining the backend of the website … making sure DIFF’s ready to launch on campaign days. Zach serves as the brand’s social media guru, reaching out to influencers that are a good fit for DIFF’s brand image. But the guys are quick to point out that while they may have organically fallen into roles that take advantage of each founder’s strengths, they’re not about to limit themselves with individual job descriptions.
“We found in the beginning that we kind of had to remove ourselves from the titles and just know that we’ll each do what it takes for the business to work,” explains Chad D.
Whatever they’re doing, it’s working.
Without a brick-and-mortar, the DIFF team has been expanding their reach by keeping their finger on the pulse of their target audience: today’s youth. With the brand’s first sale on Black Friday 2014, DIFF’s outreach has continued to grow through their website and strong social media presence.
“Right now we’re thinking that staying e-commerce-based might actually be a more sustainable way to do business,” Chad D. explains.
So where does the DIFF acronym come from? It stems from the company’s origin, creating quality diffraction shades for party-goers and music lovers. But it’s also a play on being different, seeing different and, most importantly, making a difference.
It’s a company with a clear set of values, a super-cool image and a killer product. If you haven’t already, there’s no doubt you’ll be hearing more about DIFF.
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